Category: Motivation

Not growing weary

Waiting to Reap (pictured above), by Stephen Rountree, is an original painting in acrylic on salvaged, early 1900s barn wood, lightly coated in white pickling stain. The encouraging words of Galatians 6:9 are hand-transferred onto the wood in distressed lettering. Waiting to Reap is available in the shop today.

Are you tired yet? You might have immediately thought I was referring to the pandemic and the social distancing, and all that has changed in such a short time. I know we’re tired of those things. But that’s not what’s on my mind today.

I’m talking about getting tired of doing good. As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many people have shown the best of humanity in trying times (one thing I’m really tired of is the use of the word “unprecedented,” so I’ve banned it from this blog). But we are finite creatures with limited bandwidth, energy, and stamina. At some point, we reach the end of our resources and ability to meet the needs of our families, friends, and neighbors. We just get tired.

Maybe you’re at that place today. Maybe you’ve been at that place for a while. Maybe you’re still going like gangbusters. Whatever your status, the New Testament book of Galatians has some words of wisdom and encouragement for us all regarding doing good.

Encouragement from God

In Galatians chapter 6, the apostle Paul gives the church instructions on how they are to treat one another. He talks about the need to “bear one another’s burdens” and says that by doing that, we will fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ?

In Matthew 22, Jesus answers a similar question from a religious leader of the day: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

Later, in the book of John, Jesus tells His disciple that His commandment is to love one another. In fact, He says that their love for one another would be one of the ways people would identify them as His followers.

If you had to put it on a bumper sticker, you might boil it down to say, “Love God, love people.”

Doing good the right way

Fast forward to Galatians where Paul encourages followers of Christ to keep the main thing the main thing—to love God and love the people around them. Consider these words from chapter 6:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10, ESV)

Here Paul is like the person along the marathon route who hands out water to the exhausted runners. He’s telling us, “Keep it up! Stay on the right course. Invest in your spiritual life with God and love Him and the people around you. Pour yourselves into this race! It’s worth it; there’s a payoff at the end if you just don’t give up!”

Don’t give up

When we’re tired of doing good, let’s allow God’s words from Galatians to spur us on another mile. We don’t want to waste time and energy on things that won’t matter tomorrow, let alone for eternity. And we don’t want to do the work in our power. God never intended for us to accomplish His work in our strength. He wants to work through us by His Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to do whatever He calls us to do. Let’s sow good things by spending our time with God in prayer and reading His word and doing good to all people. Even when we feel like neither one is getting us anywhere, God says they are.

If we take the time to invest ourselves in the spiritual and physical parts of our lives by “doing good” in both, we will reap a harvest.

Be encouraged and inspired, and until then, keep sowing!

Inspire your creativity: five steps to better spaces for productivity and relaxation

Guest bloggers share secrets of decluttering

As promised last week, I’m delighted to present this guest post from my friends, Gretchen Moen and Lynda Reider, decluttering and organizing geniuses. Together they are Cut the Clutter RVA, serving clients throughout the Richmond, Virginia region and sometimes beyond. If, like me, you could use a little more organization and a little less clutter, especially during these days of staying closer to home, then read on. And if you’d like to contact Lynda and Gretchen to ask a question they didn’t answer in this post, please drop us a note in the box at the end of this post. We’ll make sure they get it. Now, without further delay, here is this week’s…

Guest post by Lynda Reider & Gretchen Moen, Chief Clutter Cutters with Cut the Clutter RVA

Time to create a great space

We’re grateful for this opportunity to share some decluttering and organizing techniques with you! 

Many people are struggling to find balance and joy with their belongings, especially now that we’re spending so much time at home. 

God has put many things on pause right now. Your calendar is now open to so many new opportunities for you to explore within your home. During this pause, we would encourage you to spend time making intentional choices about what you need and don’t need in your home. 

And here’s why: we often see a major transformation in people who start living a more organized life. When your physical space is clear, your mind is more clear. Making decisions about your belongings and deciding what to keep and what to part with allows for easier organization. You are creating physical and mental spaces ripe for both productivity and relaxation. 

So, how do you start? Here it is in five steps:

1. Start easy

We all have belongings with strong emotional ties – maybe you have boxes of heirlooms from your Grandma’s farmhouse or files with letters from your parents when they first met. We recommend that you work up to whichever categories are most emotional for you. Decluttering is like a train leaving the station—you’ll start slowly and then gain momentum once you experience the calm and clarity it brings. So, choose a small area to start in. We’ll use Lynda’s desk as an example.

2. Take everything out

Begin by taking everything out of your small space. In the case of Lynda’s desk, she removed all of the pens, paper clips, papers, gum and more. 

3. Sort and categorize

To really see what you have, group like items together. As you’re sorting, you will come across things you no longer want. These easy decisions can be thrown away, recycled or set aside in a “go” pile. More on that in the next step.

For Lynda’s desk project, she sorted items into piles on the floor. To save your back, you may want to use a table or other raised surface for your sorting. 

We also encourage you to incorporate like items from other parts of the room into your sort. For example, Lynda had a coffee cup of pens on a bookcase and some pens in a backpack in her office. She sorted those with the pens from her desk. Think of it as a mini scavenger hunt—once you know what items are in your desk, search the rest of the space for like items. Gathering all of the like items will significantly help with the next step! 

4. Purge and re-home

Once Lynda saw that she had 14 red pens (before the sort, she thought she only had three!), it made the decision to keep, donate, or trash much easier.

The more you purge, the easier it is to keep organized. If you’re not a huge fan of organizing projects, that’s okay; think of it this way—the more you remove from the space, the less frequently you’ll have to spend future time on this kind of project! 

Three key questions

So, how do you make the decision to let something go? Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I remember when I last used this item?
  2. Do I like this item?
  3. Would I buy it again?

In general, if the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s time to let go of the item.

And, what should you do with the items in that “go” pile that you created? Keeping things out of the landfill is a great goal. Whenever possible, try to recycle or re-home them. 

There are so many people in need, especially right now. Once you know what items you have to donate, do some research to see who needs them. In the case of Lynda’s desk items, she can offer them to a teacher friend to use in her classroom. Or drop them off at SCRAP RVA (https://richmond.scrapcreativereuse.org/), a Richmond-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire creative reuse by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community. Many nonprofits aren’t currently accepting donations, but they will need them once the pandemic passes. Consider holding onto your donations in a guest room or other storage space for now.

5. Reload and enjoy

And now for the fun part! It’s time to reload your items back into the space. Think about which items you use most frequently and place those in easy-to-reach spaces. We are big fans of using what you have—in the case of Lynda’s desk, she used that same coffee cup to organize pens on her desktop. If you have bins, baskets or dividers, use them to help keep your items in their distinct categories. Now, sit back and admire your work. You did it! And doesn’t that feel good?

We’re here to help!

Still not sure what to do next? Stuck on one of the steps above? That’s okay. We’d love to provide you with advice on how to organize your space. We are happy to listen, and we never judge!  We help you find solutions to simplify your life. Drop us a note to this blog via the comment box below with your questions and we’ll follow up with you.

Stay on the wheel

Have you ever watched a master potter forming a new piece of work on his wheel? He’ll take a lump of clay, plop it on the wheel, add water, and turn the wheel on. That’s when the magic happens. His masterful fingers remove clay from where he doesn’t it want and apply pressure in just the right places to transform the lump of clay into the form that he has planned for it.

The metaphor of the potter and clay has long been applied to the human experience with God. The Bible is full of references to this ancient art form. Consider Isaiah 64:8: “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”
Jeremiah 18:1-23 and other passages also reference the imagery of the potter and clay.

All people everywhere are, indeed, made in the image of God, as recorded in Genesis 1:27: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
The second chapter of Genesis offers a little more detail it its seventh verse, which says, “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

Of all of the creatures that God made, people are the only ones He made in His image. Think about that for moment. With no other creature does Scripture say that God shared His very breath.
We understand that the “image of God” refers to the immaterial aspect of our humanity—qualities such as our sense of morality and self-awareness. It’s what sets us apart from animals and enables us to have fellowship with our Creator.

Originally, God declared that His completed work was “very good.” That image of God in us, though, was marred when Adam and Eve chose to reject God’s way and follow their own plan. The entire Bible from that point on until the last book of Revelation is the account of God pursuing His creation, calling us back into that close relationship that was lost because of that first sin by Adam and Eve.

Finally, God the Son, Jesus Christ, left the glories of heaven and humbled Himself (Philippians 2:6), entering our space and time as a small baby who grew to be a man. Jesus lived to show us what God was like and He died to pay the price for our sins. Because of that, if we believe in Him, trusting Him to restore our relationship with God, then the Scriptures say we will be saved.

Now let’s get back to the potter. Second Corinthians 3 tells us that those put their trust in Jesus Christ are being transformed by God—that is they are being changed from their sinful, rebellious selves, into people who look more and more like Jesus. The churchy word for this is “sanctification.”

I like to think of it like as a lump of clay in the hands of a master potter. As long as the clay is on the wheel, in the hands of the potter, it will be transformed from a lump into whatever form the potter has in mind—a vase, a dish, a pitcher. Sometimes the potter turns the clay into something beautiful that decorates a room. Sometimes he makes something very useful. But he always has a vision and a plan for the clay on the wheel. And just as it takes time for a potter to transform clay from a lump into a beautiful or useful object, sanctification—transforming people into the image of Christ—takes a while, too. In fact, it takes a lifetime.

But it’s worth it because each day, each year, we are closer to being what God designed us to be from the beginning. The key is to stay on the wheel. It’s only there, under the hands of The Potter, that we can be transformed into what He wants us to be. And when you feel like the pressure of His hands is too much, or He’s stretching you too thin in one area or another, or the wheel is making you more than a little dizzy, remember that He sees what you’re becoming. He has a plan to finish His work with you. He won’t leave you lumpy and deformed on His wheel! Trust Him and lean on these words of Paul to the Philippians (1:6): “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

A “fowl” lesson for quitters like me

Percy, the persevering rooster is hand-carved from wood and crows at the impending day. Acrylic painted accents.

A few years ago my family and I traveled to Costa Rica to visit my wife’s sister, Nancy, where she and her husband, Sean, serve with Cru in Central and South America. It was my first trip south of the U.S., and Costa Rica was full of new sights and sounds. But one familiar sound greeted me every morning—a rooster. Without fail, that Costa Rican bird crowed around the same time early each day just before it was getting light. I’m not a morning person, but I would like to have a little more of one of his characteristics: perseverance.

Roosters, more than any other animal, are known for greeting the dawn. In fair weather or foul, hot or cold, wet or dry, in all kinds of circumstances, when a new day starts to dawn, they’re going to announce it with their cock-a-doodle-do, just the way God designed them to. Back in 2013, Japanese researchers made the news when they determined that instead of depending on external cues from their environment, roosters use a built-in circadian clock to help them crow on time. It’s as if they’re designed to persevere, announcing each new day, regardless of what’s going on around them.

Am I any different? God has designed me to be in relationship with Him. The Creator and the created—in communion together. He also has designed me to do good works. In the New Testament, Ephesians 2:10 spells it out very clearly, saying, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Like the rooster, God has built in me the ability to do what He has created me to do. And it’s in the perseverance of the rooster that I see a difficult lesson. Too many times I don’t persevere. I get tired or frustrated. My circumstances are tough. It’s raining. It’s cold. So I give up on doing those good things I was created to do—the good works that God planned long ago for me to do.

Sometimes that looks like giving up on praying for others, or on praising God. I can always pray later, can’t I? Sometimes it looks like giving up on lending a helping hand. I’m too busy, after all. It looks like a lot of things, but what it doesn’t look like is perseverance. In the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians (verse 3:13), he writes, “As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.” That suggests that we are, in fact, inclined to get tired of doing the good things that we have the opportunity to do. We might have great intentions, but our interest wanes, or other needs create demands on our time. The good thing we set out to do do becomes difficult and we lose momentum.

It’s been said that too often, we give up right before we are about to succeed. The big breakthrough—that extra measure of energy, of contentment, that resolution to a thorny dilemma, is just over the hill, just around the corner, just one day away. But I give up—we give up—just before we see it. I created Percy the Persevering Rooster to remind myself that if a rooster can get up every morning and do what he was created to do, surely I can too. Maybe he’ll remind you, as well. Persevere!

Check out Percy strutting his rooster stuff in the shop! Just click the button below.